NIGERIA: A NATION AT CROSSROADS
We are each other’s harvest;
We are each other’s business;
We are each other’s magnitude and bond
Looking for a suitable topic for this article seems to be a herculean task, and after several minutes of deep thoughts the phrase “A nation at a crossroad” seeped into my mind. I quickly went online to look for a better way to rephrase, Unfortunately, I saw an entire work of Benedict Rogers titled “BURMA: A NATION AT THE CROSSROADS”. I am in a dilemma of whether to use the title or risk copyright laws. However, I took a step further to read the review of this book only to discover that the content is not all different from what I have been working on for couple weeks now, hence the more reason for the topic. The entity called Nigeria came into existence a little above hundred years and ever since, the fight for her survival has been swift, gruesome and at several points in time bloody. The camaraderie in the country has been severely punctured by ethnic, religion and linguistic fractionalization making her a hotbed of violence. For those familiar with the nation’s history and antecedence, the nation is at an historic crossroad, this year marks the 50th year of the civil war that claimed millions of lives especially in the Eastern part. The 2015 general elections predicted by many pundits and political experts as one that may lead to the disintegration of the country however came out differently thereby convincing a sizeable few that the nation is on a quick path to recovery. However, the nation went and probably is still going through a period of economic downturn which has led to serious political issues- a very good example is the reawakening of the call for the Independence of the People of Biafra.
On the 14th of July 2015, a small radio station called Radio Biafra also known as Voice of Biafra was jammed by the broadcasting Corporation for lacking the legal requirements to broadcast within the nation’s territory which led to the arrest of Nnamdi Kalu. Two years down the lane the issue which looked like a minor domestic issue has led to a widespread clamour for the independence state of Biafra resulting to calls from several pressure groups for the expulsion of some certain tribes from their regions.
The situation of the nation could be likened to a poem by W.B Yeats made popular by Chinua Achebe
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity
The Unity of the Nation once again has been called into question with language of hate, animosity and tribalism. People argued that the woe of the country is brought upon it when the amalgamation was initiated in 1914 and as such the need to go back to the supposed pre 1914 divisions. This statement as logical as it sounds is the most committed fallacy by Nigerians irrespective of educational qualifications. Tracing the nation’s history to the pre 1914 geographical divisions could help us understand what was going on among indigenes or settlers of the geographical space called Nigeria. To compound the woes the political system handed down to us encouraged the projection of 3 major ethnic groups as if others are non-existence through the confederal cum parliamentary system of government practised before and immediately after the independence.
Social studies class taught in primary schools identified 3 major ethnic groups and in the mind of a small child only 3 ethnic groups exist — This is the building block of the failures. whereas some so called minority tribes in Nigeria are bigger than many independent nations e.g. Singapore, Monaco, Hong Kong and several European countries.
For those familiar with economic literatures, it is not a gainsaying if I say anytime the term underdevelopment is mentioned, we should be expecting sub-Sahara countries (Third World Countries) or a component of it in the next line or paragraph. This is by no means to denigrate us but to awakening us to the reality of what we are battling with in this part of the world. Scholarly works has been carried out to identify the root cause of the problem and several conclusions have been reached.
From Daron Acemoglu school of thought, he believed there is less political inclusion in Africa, in Paul Colliers View; he opined that we suffer from several resource curses, also in the words of Jeff Sachs, Aid given to Africa is not enough. Interestingly though not new to the field of economics, Dambisa Moyo said, Aid and its other peripheries is actually the problem. Jared Diamond offers his own insight by identifying Geography, Weather and the physical position of Africa on the Globe as the problem.
These are just few of brilliant causes identified among so many scholars. In addition to what has been said and by simple economic analysis I also discovered albeit not new that Fractionalization and underdevelopment have a sort of direct relationship (this is what economics we called positive correlation.) Before going further fractionalization is simply how divided or broken a country is along the lines of ethnicity, language and religion. By mere observation on the fractionalization index presented in the chart below the first 30 countries are under developing countries where 27 of them are Sub Saharans and the last 30 are mostly dominated by countries in Europe. Though an in-depth analysis has not been carried out to identify the causal relationship or if there is double causation, nonetheless a graphical analysis shows that fractionalization and nation’s development cum prosperity is negative.
The diagram below shows Human Development Index and Fractionalization in the world, also it shows the comparison between Europe and Africa countries for these two variables. Africa countries demonstrate low HDI and High fractionalization while European countries depict the opposite. Furthermore, the graph shows that the higher your fractionalization the lower your level of development(HDI)
Lessons from Canada
Couple weeks ago, I saw a banner showing 150 years of Canada as a country, I got confused because I couldn’t relate with how a country who is just 37 years older than us could achieved those feat. To add salt to my injury I discovered further in my analysis that the nation is as fractionalized as Nigeria, how come a nation could build herself so high yet possess with the same feature that is tearing my nation apart. At this point I can only conclude by saying an individual or a group of people are architects of their own misfortune.
Lesson from South Sudan
The youngest nation in the world is South Sudan and her existence since birth is worrisome. The nation broke out of Sudan with claims of marginalization, ethnic and religious differences. However, for close to 7 years of existence war and destruction has been a reoccurring factor. This shows that even when a nation with a claim of ethnic and religious identity come together, peace, stability and prosperity cannot be guaranteed.
These are just 2 cases among numerous countries of the world Nigeria can learn from.
Several nations of the world more than the ones listed above have scaled over their own form of impediments to achieve greater growth and developments.
TAPPING AND EXPLOITING OUR DIFFERENCES
The framing of Nigeria together as a nation can only be the act of God (for those who believe He exists). Also, complementarity instead of substitutability is what should be the relationship of different geo political zones and ethnic groups in Nigeria. Examining each region comparative advantage and its benefit if properly harnessed is of essence.
Imagine a country possessing all these features yet experiencing poverty in the midst of wealth. The time is now for all of us to come to the realization that coming together is not just beneficial to some people but the right step to move up the ladder of Need from our physiological need to self-transcedence.